Starting in 1929 as the commissary for a turpentine factory, the Indian Pass Raw Bar has earned a gleaming reputation among locals, sunbirds, and travelers — for oysters, of course, shucked to order just behind the counter. Deep-cupped Apalachicolas are nothing short of magnificent eaten raw from the half shell, each a fine mouthful glistening with oceanic liquor, painfully tender, ocean-sweet, overwhelmingly satisfying. (But buoyant enough that I easily dispatched a dozen in about 90 seconds.)
I would have had another raw dozen or more, but duty demanded I also sample baked oysters, a specialty in oyster bars all along the Forgotten Coast. Oh, lordy, they are scrumptious, baked only long enough for the marine meat to warm abut not toughen or dry, and for all the butter, Parmesan cheese, and garlic on top to melt into a luxurious golden veil.
Smoked fish dip, a panhandle passion, is here creamy with the sweetest possible duet of smoke and fresh fish. Also notable are gorgeous pink peel & eat seasoned steamed shrimp, simple comfort-food seafood gumbo, and classic Key lime pie. For seafood frowners, there is a short menu of burgers, hot dogs, and BBQ.
Seating is a commissary-style tables and service is the charming antiquated method by which customers check off what they want on a paper menu and hand that menu to a waitress. Decor is a wildly eclectic mise-en-scene that includes dollar bills plastered everywhere on the wall and a map of the U.S.A. with pushpins showing where customers have come from.